Let’s get stuck into my story…
I suppose I should start from the beginning and I’m not sure I’m going to have enough quiet time with the computer to get it all down in one post so I may have to spread this out over a few.
The beginning is hard… Looking back at my personal blog and the subjects I chose to talk about, it’s strange that I wrote about what are really just menial things and didn’t ever mention the big things I was dealing with at the time.
I have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.
While this has many little fun side effects, one of the hardest to hear and to process is that I may struggle when trying to conceive. PCOS means that ovulation is irregular and unreliable and, ya know, you can’t have a baby without an egg! Back then I didn’t really think I wanted to be a mum. I love children don’t get me wrong, but I was too afraid. Being a mother is such a huge risk and if you’re no good at it there’s no take backs. That’s a little person’s life you’ve messed up. My Mum and Dad were far from ideal and they were more than enough to frighten me off; what if I’m anything like them? That just seemed too big for me to handle.
And then my wonderful husband began to change my mind on this. You see he makes me a better person and the absolute best version of myself; I began to believe that perhaps I could do it and even if things were hard, with him by my side not only would I be fine, but our child would have the best life!
However, although I was coming round to the idea, babies certainly weren’t in the pipeline just yet! I had a wedding to plan! That is until Saturday 23rd January 2016. Everything changed that day. The day I lost my first baby.
Trying to understand miscarriage.
Absolutely nothing can prepare you for the absolute barrage of emotions after the loss of a baby. I don’t like the term loss of pregnancy because it’s more than that. I don’t miss being pregnant, I don’t crave getting fat and grumpy, I don’t cry over not being pregnant anymore. I was going to have a baby; a little person that I never got to meet, never got to hold or kiss, that I won’t name or see grow. My baby died. That is the hardest thing to get your head around. It is the loss of a baby, not just a pregnancy.
I can remember it so very clearly. I didn’t know I was expecting and so when the cramps and bleeding started that Saturday I assumed I was having a period – I didn’t get them very often because of the PCOS, I could go months with nothing and at the time (not knowing that it meant my body wasn’t working – damn thing) I felt very smug about this! I really cursed this period though, I was babysitting that night and I hated being away from home during Aunt Flo’s visit! But I huffed and puffed and went about my day, as you do, even though I was in horrible pain. We are women. We bleed, we hurt and we continue with life!
On Sunday morning I passed something that was not just part of a normal period. (Sorry – TMI!) I had this horrible, sinking feeling; knowing that something wasn’t right, having a suspicion of what it may be but denying it to myself. I didn’t tell anyone. We had my Mum staying with us that weekend and then I was at work super early Monday morning. There just wasn’t a good time. And to be honest I’m not sure I could have found the words to bring it into conversation anyway.
How do you begin to put this into words?
I was no good to anyone at work that day. I couldn’t think about anything else. Husband knows me better than anyone – better than I know myself half the time. And when I got home that day he knew something was wrong. I snapped at him over what we were going to have for tea. I was feeling atrocious – the pains were still pretty bad and the bleeding was heavy, I had a headache and I just felt unwell.
I was wrapped up in a blanket on the sofa pretending I was just tired. I can remember how it all came tumbling out, I had tried to pull the blanket up under my chin and my hand slipped and I hit myself in the face. Usually I’d have laughed hysterically at myself. Husband laughed at me, I collapsed in uncontrollable sobs. And out it came. My fears, what I thought had happened, everything. I cried, he cried. I called the Dr and they saw me the next day and confirmed it.
I had had a miscarriage.
Never ever Google.
They think I was only about 7 weeks pregnant, still right at the beginning. It seems like nothing but obviously I couldn’t help myself. I googled. Bad move:
“What’s happening in week seven
Seven weeks in and your unborn baby is coming on in leaps and bounds.
Size-wise, your baby is now about 1cm in size and not much bigger than a little bean, bobbing around in your womb.
Your baby is continuing to grow at a remarkable pace, its embryonic form is slowly starting to transform into an actual little person, with emerging arm and leg buds, and a beating heart – how amazing? They also have a tiny tail – but that will soon disappear!”
An actual little person with a beating heart. Yeah, that really finished me off.
I’m a Mum… I was a Mum?
To find out that you were having a baby and that you’d lost that baby in one blow totally broke my mind. I didn’t know I wanted to have a baby – it certainly wasn’t a good time! We weren’t even married yet. But at that moment I would have given anything to have my baby back. I would have been due right around my birthday. What an amazing birthday present that would have been!
Husband was so utterly amazing at this time. I don’t think men get enough recognition really. They too are suffering a loss and also having to look after the woman they love while they try and work their way through the fog that descends. They’re superheroes. Mine certainly is anyway, and was at that time more than ever.
We didn’t tell anyone. We just wanted to get on with things, people didn’t need to know. I’m not sure why we felt that way looking back. Miscarriage is not spoken enough about. It’s so hard to grieve anyway, let alone to do so in secret. We wouldn’t hide the loss of a living child or a friend or a parent. We would reach out to those in our inner circle for support. Why do we not do this when we lose a child that we didn’t even get the chance to meet? That does not require any less support. I really could have used it in those early days. My mental health was not great but I’d been on antidepressants for about 6 months and was just starting therapy and I had made progress. This set me so far back.
As if that wasn’t enough…
The second blow came when the pain didn’t go away. Two weeks later considering things hadn’t got any better and I nearly fainted at work, I went back to the Dr and was sent for a scan to check on everything. I was given the all clear on the miscarriage front, for lack of better wording, but the ultrasound discovered both of my ovaries were now presenting as Polycystic.
What did this mean? Well, my child bearing organs were previously running on 50%: one side worked, the other didn’t work very well at all. But now, they were both down. The Dr very gently told me that the chances of me being able to conceive naturally were very slim and that we would almost certainly need medical intervention to help us grow our family.
I had just lost a baby and now had to process that it was unlikely I’d be able to naturally conceive any more in the future. Wow. I cried quite a lot then too.I spent a lot of time googling and reaching out to strangers in forums for people that had suffered miscarriages or stillbirths. I needed to know what I was feeling was normal. That I wasn’t just being a drama queen.
Cue Mum to Mum advice:
If you’re going through this and I could give you any advice at all, it would be to talk, if you want to.
Don’t ever feel that you should be ashamed or that people will judge you. If you want to reach out, do it. Because there is nothing harder than trying to get through these things on your own. And I also learned later on that people would have wanted to know.
Months later when I finally felt able to talk about it, those closest to me asked why I hadn’t told them, they apologised for not being there for me even though I hadn’t given them a chance to be! Losing a child, at any stage of life, is unthinkable. To think I was a Mum but no one knew and I had nothing to show for it. No one to cuddle or dress up or take to Mummy/Baby groups.
It made my heart hurt.
I needed something…
I’m the sentimental type and so I needed to do something to signify our loss. Some physical thing that I could touch and talk to. So, we bought a magnolia tree – one of my favourite plants and something I had wanted to get for a while! In spring, when it comes into flower, I stop and I stare, I touch the soft petals and I think of the baby we never met but love just as much all the same.
This spring I showed Sophia the flowers and I told her about her big brother or sister that will always be looking over her.